Homer on Divine Will and the need for unifying mood among Men

Here we present and analyze an excerpt from Homer’s Iliad.
Rhapsody Ι, Verses 254-258

In ancient Greek: «τέκνον εμόν. κάρτος μέν Αθηναίη τε καί Ήρη δώσουσ’, αί κ’εθέλωσι, σύ δέ μεγαλήτορα θυμόν ίσχειν εν στήθεσσι. Φιλοφροσύνη γάρ αμείνων. Ληγέμεναι δ’έριδος κακομηχάνου, όφρα σε μάλλον τίωσ’ Αργείων ημέν νέοι ηδέ γέροντες»

In English: «my child, Athena and Hera will give you victories, if they will, and you should keep the big-hearted temper inside your chest, because amenity is better. You should end the ill-working dispute, so that the Argeans, young and old, honor you more»


This excerpt offers us the following teachings:

a) he says that ‘if the gods will’ Achilles will defeat his enemies in battle. We notice here the faith in the ‘Divine Will’ and that It determines the outcome of events. Additionally, it is meant that in exceptional circumstances, like war is, the strength of Divine intervention is very obvious. These beliefs run through all Greek History up to our days. And not unjustifiably, as a great number of divine interventions and miracles has been recorded, both in peaceful circumstances and war conditions.

b) he says that one should control the big-hearted temper, i.e. the impulsive rage. The man who allows anger to take control over him does not act either with logic or with prudence. His mind (nous) blurs. We have already explained how important is for one to have a ‘clear mind’. Both for practical and spiritual reasons. The passion of rage-anger, especially if it stems from pride, is really devastating for Man.

c) amenity, i.e. the predisposition towards ‘φιλία’ (‘φιλία’ = unifying mood) is better. The reasons this is claimed are obvious. When the inner beginning of Man has a positive sign, when Man starts with a mood to give, to co-operate, to unify, then himself, his human environment and Society as a whole constantly improve. The opposite mood, the divisive, which originates from sick egoism/self-love and generally evilness, is destructive for both the individual and the Society. To be even more exact, when people of this tendency increase in numbers it is impossible for Society to exist. It should be clear that the more the materialistic-hedonistic-individualistic mood increases inside a polity, the more the communion between its people decreases and, hence, it marches towards dissolution.

d) end the ill-working dispute, so that the Argeans, young and old, honor you more. Homer states here that the ‘peacemakers’ become worthy of honor among Men. So, he suggests the good-willed and peace-making Man as exemplar. Justifiably, this person will own characteristics that refer to Virtue and Good in general. We have already explained in our analyses which are these and what benefit can bring in individual and social level.

Isidoros Aggelos

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